Fun & Games on LHI.

Breakfast followed by a few games of the word game Banana Peel! That’s a different start to the day!

Games are a good way to get to know people and the Melbourne friends like their games and they always invite us to join in.

I followed up with another few games of backgammon with Tony. One game s spectacular win. The next a spectacular loss!

I joined the eco tour of the lodge. Led by Cameron it is a great part at Pinetrees Lodges daily working life. The gardens have gradually been redesigned by Cameron who seems to be a man of many talents. Very in touch with the environment he talked is through the garden, water collection and usage, the electricity, food provisions, staffing and general running of Pinteees. He was so engaging and knowledgeable.

Cameron head of grounds & gardens.

Suddenly it was nearly midday and our lift to Neds Beach was waiting.

Carol our driver volunteer took us on the regulation 20km per hour short 10 minutes drive to Neds on the opposite side of the island.

We snorkelled around the coral with the large blue fish. We spied lots of other coloured fish – no wonder as there are 450 species and 90 types of coral. Steve even had one nibble his toe.

We shared our delicious fish & steak BBQ with Phil and Jo – a couple of scientists now nursery owners from Wagga. So much fun and so interesting.

Steve and Phil rule the BBQ

Another swim and snorkel then a rest under the trees, reading before our longish walk back to Pinetrees. These longer walks are difficult for Steve but he does it ! We had intended to stop for drink at The Crooked Post for a drink but it had a sign saying closed for Discovery Day.

Discovery Day is a big day here at Lord Howe. Feb 17th celebrates their discovery in 1788 some 234 years ago by and named for Admiral Lord Howe by Lieutenant Henry Lidgbird Ball of the British navy. The island was first settled in 1834 and became a supply station for whalers.

There are now about 350 people. A small 3 teacher school. Many of the families are 5th generation including the family who still run Pinetrees Lodge.

What a program.

The celebration involves a fun sports day on the cricket oval adjoining the school. There are running races , sack races, three legged races, oldies races….. you name it there is a race. There is a break for dinner – which usually involves a big fish fry!

We called in and enjoyed a beer while watching the little kids do their running races, & sack races, urged on by parents and friends. This involves almost everyone on the island. I saw Cameron from the Pinetress eco tour. His two young children attend the school which has around 30 students. When they reach high school they either get home schooled or fly away to boarding school.

A crane with lights so activities could run late.

It’s looks like a fairly close knit community though like all small places it would have all the usual problems.

We stayed until the Dinner break – a bbq / fish fry in the school playground and went onto our own delicious dinner on the deck. Tonight a seafood bisque and strangely I broke my fish habit and had the confit duck!

Tomorrow a boat trip to Ball’s Pyramid- something Steve has been so keen to do.

Snorkelling on Lord Howe

Heavy rain so a slower start.

Steve still enjoyed a swim with the swim crew. They are all the Melbourne people who did the swim week with Trevor Hendy last year.

Steve talked the swimmers into swimming out and around the little island known locally as Rabbit island. they were very happy with that swim.

I stayed and learned to play backgammon with Tony. He patiently showed me what to do and of course with his guidance and some lucky throwing of the dice I won. Second game not so lucky. But I like the game.

We took our picnic and walked the foreshore towards the boat sheds. We were going on a snorkel trip at 3. The weather cleared and we took off. We had a great glass bottom boat with Dean our captain. He was very knowledgeable and made a great effort to get us into a good area out of the wind for a snorkel. I was pleasantly surprised.

After terrific snorkelling in Galapagos and at Lady Elliot Island I was pleased to see so many beautiful coloured fish. And a little Galapagos shark. Also a turtle and a big manta ray. The trip was with compliment of Pinetrees. Thank you very much!

Saw a few turtles.

I forgot to mention our visit to the weather station near the airport. We went with Peter from Chase ‘n Thyme Tours. Twice a day, every day of the year, weather balloons are released simultaneously from almost 900 locations worldwide! This includes 30 released in Australia . The balloon flights last for around 2 hours.

We were there in time for the 10.15 release.

And away it goes. It’s quickly released then floats up and away quickly.

Dinner was great. We shared again with Greg and Anne Maree. Lots of laughs.

Fish again for me and scotch fillet in a beautiful jus for Steve. Dessert a semifreddo with nut praline. Delicious.

Exploring Lord Howe

Steve set out at 7am for a swim with some of the other keen swimmers.

They swam to the pontoon about a 1.5 km along the lagoon – and back! I had a walk following them along.

Back in time for breakfast we had to be ready for pickup by Peter from Chase n’ Thyme tours. I. booked a few weeks ago. It is about 2-3 hrs and Peter has a 12 seater van and takes you to as much of the island as possible.

Chase ‘n’ Thyme

It was a perfect orientation to the island. The history and geography. Peter is married to a 5th generation local and he’s lived here for 30 years.

He took us to the south of the island and pointed out the features including the two Norfolk Island pinetrees that act as a navigational guide to boats entering the lagoon.

Pinetrees mark the lagoon entrance.

There are pine trees all over the island and are really regarded, by the head gardener at Pinetrees, as a pest. Their needles drop and leach the soil. They don’t break down easily and also germinate causing more trees to grow! But they are here to stay and certainly look attractive.

Mt Gower in the background.

We drove up to Neds Beach where there is a good coral reef close in – so is a must for snorkeling.

Then to the top of a hill and saw the solar farm. It and the Tesla batteries were provided at a huge cost by the NSW Govt. The power source is proving very valuable and has improved the cost of power to the island.

We saw the jetty where once a fortnight the supply shop arrives with the order for the resorts, restaurants and locals. It is a very popular day in LHI and occasionally due to very bad weather it is held up and everyone suffers. It’s also the reason why everything on the island is very expensive and planning for goods has to be thoroughly done.

Peter dropped us off at the pontoon area. This is the Main Street where they are a few shops and a restaurant, PO, local hall, a small bar called The Crooked Post and a general store. All on short hours! You must plan your visits to be between 10-12 and 2-4. Or miss out. Mind you the Crooked Post opens at 3ish or so the sign says!

Pinetrees has delivered us a bbq. This is part of their lunch options. A picnic , a bbq, or lunch on the deck.

Today we chose a bbq and after getting the woodfire going enjoyed our sausages. Next time I’m opting for fish! It comes with vegetables to grill, salad. All the trimmings. Even a beer or wine!

We packed up and left the picnic basket under a tree for pick up by Pinetrees later. We walked back via the coastal walk and enjoyed an hour rest before another swim.

The dinner was once again delicious. A Japanese style eggplant entree then fish for me and pork belly for Steve.

Steve had met Damon from Sydney. He’s here with the family for his mother in laws 70th. They have the Banyan Cottage. It looks great for a family celebration getaway.

Check out the Pinetrees website and see the Banyan Cottage. Just lovely.

We are now used to no tv, no wifi, no phone. no contact.

Tony from Melbourne is going to teach us to play backgammon. Lessons start tomorrow!

We’ve met a few people now and enjoy chatting with drinks or sharing dinner.we seem to be the only people from Brisbane. Lots from Sydney and Melbourne.

Let the exploring begin.

We started the day with a great breakfast on the deck at Pinetrees. The staff here are lovely. They remember your name and help plan your day. You can choose a picnic or BBQ lunch or stay and have lunch on the deck.

The lagoon is perfect for a swim or a snorkel.

So what is there to do on LHI? It’s mostly about walking, swimming , snorkeling, golfing, bike riding and generally getting out into nature and making the most of it. Fortunately our weather is looking good. Apparently it’s been rainy and windy the last few weeks.

We’re a bit limited with some activities but I’m able to walk and Steve can swim so between us we are getting some activity.

After breakfast we walked to the little museum. It’s run by volunteers and has a lovely deck and cafe. It’s also one of only two places on the island with public wifi. I resisted!

The museum gives an overview of the history of LHI. This island is a unique place on earth. It is world heritage listed. More on the history later.

We passed the hospital- one doctor and two nurses. They are kept very busy with locals and then the visitors who seem to fall off bikes, or slip on walking tracks, or fall on Mt Gower. Let’s hope we don’t need medical attention.

The hospital

We checked out Joy’s general store. It has a huge range of things. From fresh and frozen produce to gifts, toys, useful items and alcohol.

Government House has very low security! The islands administrator lives there. It S just lovely.

Our picnic lunch was ready for us and we found a shady spot near the lagoon and enjoyed our ham, cheese, beetroot and feta salad followed by cheese and crackers.

A perfect lazy picnic.

The sun was shining and the water blue so I had my first swim. It’s beautifully clear water. It’s easy to swim out to where the coral starts. You start to see coloured fish or if you’re lucky a turtle or some rays. Steve did when he swam out a lot further.

The water temperature was just perfect. It’s around 23 in the water so very comfortable. Apparently, it’s best swim weather over the summer months. February in particular.

The afternoon was spent reading and dozing in the afternoon sun and suddenly it was G & T time.

Dinner was once again delicious. A few lightly spiced prawns followed by swordfish for me and beef cheek for Steve. Dessert was a small cinnamon donut with poached pear. It was Valentines Day so we enjoyed a few bubbles.

Sleeping was easy.

Hello Lord Howe Island

A jewel in the ocean. That’s what it’s like arriving at LHI.

Arriving with Mt Gower ready to climb!

The two tall mountains, Mt Gower and Mt Lidgbird stand watch over the sparkling lagoon.

The 2hr plane flight in a small 30 seater was smooth and easy.

We pulled into the airport and straight through to be met by Lindy and Tom from Pinetrees Lodge.

We wondered how many other swimmers would be on our flight and it didn’t take long to meet up with Jane & Tony from Melbourne who along with their friends Anna & Brad , Helen & John had enjoyed the swim week so much last year they booked again. They were just as disappointed as we were that we wouldn’t be doing it.

We had a little drive with Tom pointing out some of the island features before arriving for a welcome drink and orientation.

It’s very relaxed and we quickly met another lovely couple from Wollongong AnneMaree & Greg, who are also returned visitors. It’s seems once you’ve been once you are likely to return.

Everyone cycles, snorkles and walk. We’ll be a little restricted with our knee and arm problems but intend to make the most of our week in paradise. It really is beautiful here.

Our room a Palm Room is comfortable, not huge, but has everything we need including a timber verandah with chairs and a bench bed. It overlooks a garden area with chairs for reading in the sun. There is no tv or wifi so time is devoted to relaxing outdoors.

Pinetrees is close to the lagoon which suits us as a short walk later we are at the waters edge and the boathouse.

Guests gather at the boat shed for ‘sundowners’. A beer , wine , bubbles on the deck or spilling over onto the grass. It’s a great pre-dinner spot to watch a spectacular sunset.

Dinner is served on the deck at 7.30. It’s coolish – more than I expected but the warmth of the international staff is just right. We sat with Annemarie and Greg from Wollongong and had a great night.

We had Lisa from Sweden and Francisco from Chile looking after us explaining the dinner for the night. It was all delicious. Four courses but not big and there is always a choice of a fish, meat or vegetarian.

It changes every night and features local fish and interesting local herbs and garnishes.

The watermelon starter with labne and pomegranates was fresh and delicious.

Following up with fish with the loveliest carrot and ginger glaze. Dessert featured chocolate or a light raspberry granita. Perfect small light serves.

The staff at the lodge encourages guests to get out and exercise during the day. They supply picnic baskets so you can move around and find a perfect shady spot up relax and enjoy a light lunch.

Even though the swim week has been cancelled Steve has organised a swim each morning with the Melbourne swimmers. They will swim along the lagoon or out and around the island.

I can tell we’ll have a great week.

Lord Howe Island.

We’ll here we come. Our second attempt at visiting LHI.

LHI. A two hour flight from Sydney.

The first was for our 40th wedding anniversary 7 years ago! It was cancelled at the last moment – at Sydney airport, as the wind was too strong for the plane to land on the island.

Last year – during covid we saw there was a swim week advertised on LHI. As we weren’t able to travel overseas for our much loved swim treks –, we decided to book this one.

Arranged through Pinetrees Lodge, , it sounded just right. Great location , good accommodation, good food, nice swims and led by Trevor Hendy.

Sounded perfect. Then in December I broke my arm. A plate and several pins later I realised I wouldn’t be swimming the required 2-3km morning swims.

I rang to cancel. It seems it was being cancelled anyway as our former Australian Lifesaver champion Trevor is not vaccinated so could not get into the island.

We decided to go anyway and enjoy it after all the rehab we have been doing. Me for my arm, Steve for his knee replacement. A reward!

All we had to do was stay covid free.

Somehow we have managed that and are sitting at the airport hoping we do in fact take off in an hour.

I’ve been in touch with the island and have booked us a boat trip to Ball’s Pyramid a trip around the island with Peter at Peter has been so helpful.

There is little – or no wifi at Pinetrees so I won’t be posting until I get home.

The qantas magazine just happened to have a little article on LHI. So it’s meant to be.

Last days. Back to Bicheno

Our plan to return to Bicheno if the weather was sunny worked well. It was a magic day.

Marion Bay

We went a different route up to Bicheno. The day was warm and the water was the most gorgeous blue.

We stopped for a little homemade picnic and a few photos.

Arriving back at Waub’s Beach House Ginetta & Stephen’s beach house we felt so fortunate to have friends with such a beautiful place at the coast.

I can recommend their house to anyone looking for a base to explore this area of Tasmania.

We took a walk on the beach and I was very tempted to swim. The water temperature was about 16! Too cold for full immersion.

Steve worked up a sweat working on a cover for the firewood so took a swim. For about 10 strokes!

Steve after braving the cold!

We enjoyed a. Aperol with a view before our fish.

Tomorrow- the Wineglass Bay Cruise.

Beautiful Bruny

The barge to Bruny Island leaves from Kettering a pretty seaside town.

It was sunny when we got on the ferry and 20 mins later when we arrived it was cloudy.

This didn’t spoil our experience. It’s a big island with a combination of sealed and dirt roads.

There are houses scattered around the rolling hills leading down to a variety of bays.

Assorted letter boxes

There are very few shops and businesses. This is the way the 600 permanent residents prefer it. They want solitude not progress.

There are lots of little boats in the more sheltered bays.

We tried to stop for coffee but the Cheese Company we planned on visiting has decided to close Tuesday Wednesday. Due to covid and visitors not coming especially in the cooler months.

We did stop at the honey company and enjoyed a tasting. Leatherwood is my favourite though the fennel honey was quite different and delicious.

We crossed the narrow belt of land know as The Neck. It’s a great place to climb to the lookout for a view of the whole area. It was windy the higher we climbed.

You can see from the photo above the island and the route we were driving. We crossed the Neck to south Bruny and continued onto Alonnah Bay. There were more houses scattered along the bay , the Bruny Hotel and a general store. Yes we finally got some coffee.

This blue man was standing in a field and was made by the local men’s shed to highlight depression suffered by many farmers. The accompanying notes outlined how to recognise symptoms and how to help someone.

The small community have set up a number of street libraries and art work. Such a great idea.

We passed the Bruny Island Winery and decided that would be the perfect spot for lunch. After Cloudy Bay.

On the way we pass a resourceful local with an open garden.

Cloudy Bay has a lookout with great views

We enjoyed a lovely lunch at the vineyard. And purchased some of their wines to take to Bicheno.

The lighthouse was next. So remote and one of the four oldest lighthouses in Tasmania. In the museum there was a story of one of the earliest lighthouse keepers who was there for 36 years and had 12 children. His poor wife! How difficult life would have been.

We climbed the steep hill to the lighthouse. Along the way passing more of the pretty wildflowers we seem to see all over Tasmania.

Luckily we had Stephens four wheel drive. We were able to cross the small mountain along dirt road to the last bay we wanted to visit.

Adventure Bay is where Capt Cook landed 1773 during his second journey.

We particularly liked this area. The beach is lovely and the houses a flat walk across to the sand. And lovely views.

It was back onto the barge, a drive back to Sandy Bay to our friends and out for a fish & chips dinner. Beautiful scallops and baked flounder.

The seafood in Tasmania is great.

Strahan -The Wall to Hobart

A beautiful breakfast sets up the day.

Then it was onto Queenstown, a mining town with a great railway trip.

The Westcoast Wilderness Railway is a steam train journey from Strahan to Queenstown. We couldn’t book this time. There’s always another trip!

We stopped in Queenstown and went up the lookout. It was a very steep climb up. When we started it was fine and sunny.

We reached the top. The view of the railway was wonderful.

By the time we walked down it was cold and hailing lightly!

Back in the car we headed up and around the corners and wound our way towards The Wall.

Can you believe it. Snow!

If you are in this area of Tasmania you mustn’t miss this place. It would be easy to miss as it’s not widely advertised. But it’s so wonderful.

The Wall. Located in Derwent Bridge, the Wall is a work , started in 2005 by sculptor Greg Duncan. Originally from the Dandenong area of Victoria he came to live in this wilderness area. He has created a masterpiece of sculpture which he continues to work on today. Don’t miss it.

It is 3 metres high and 100 metres long and is sculpted entirely of Huon Pine. It tells of the history of this region of Tasmania. From the beginning when the indigenous population lived in the area, to the pioneers who began harvesting timber from the ancient forests. Following the pioneering era, there are images of the pastoralists, miners and hydro-electric scheme workers, shown along with the many animals found in the area and the horses who worked alongside pioneers.

After being blown away by the Wall we drove down past the hydroelectricity stations, through this fields of Bushy Park past the Oast Houses for drying the hops.

Oast Houses

Onto New Norfolk. This town on the Derwent River is the third oldest town in Tasmania. established around 1870’s

It has some fine old buildings and it’s Willow Court antique market is the largest in the whole of Tasmania. Houses in the series of disused building it has as many things outside it’s buildings as inside.

There are beautiful gardens and quite a few antique shops.

Back to Sandy Bay and a great night with a group of Ginetta & Stephens friends. Perfect end to our road trip round Tasmania.

Tomorrow Steve & I will head to Bruny giving the Rochesters a day at home.

Stanley to Strahan: the Wild West of Tasmania

A windy night. A rainy morning. A good day for travelling the Wild West coast of Tasmania.

We headed out of Stanley in rain and drove through the area known as the Tarkine. This is an area of temperate rainforests, sand and wildlife. It’s popular with wilderness walkers.

It’s quite remote – not many place to stop. Ginetta had us excited about one little coffee donut shop along the way – but it was closed today.

There has been a lot of rain so we saw little waterfalls and wildflowers along the way.

We followed a dirt road for about 2 hours making it to little Corrina for the punt across the quaintly maned Pieman River.

This is small community. Just a few cottages. Some of the cottages are rented by bush walkers making it a base. Others are for the locals living in the community providing the services.

We met a lovely young man who drives the barge. He is from Bundaberg! Hated the humidity loves bushwalking so has relocated here. We asked where he went during his time off. Hobart? Launceston? No he said. ‘I hate cities!’

We loved the sign for the barge.

We decided to eat in the little tavern next to the barge area.

Great steak sandwich!

By now it was raining again. It seems to be 20 mins on. 20 off. Rain then sun.

Onto the barge to cross the river.

And so safely across we continued onto Strahan.

We stopped for a sticky beak at Granville Bay. Very wild off the coast today.

The boy person we saw in Granville Harbour

We stopped in Zeehan to see the beautiful building which are left from the time the town was an important tin mining town.

One of the many murals in the town telling the history of Zeehan

Strahan is a beautiful little river harbour town and gate way to the Franklin Gordon wilderness. You can do a great cruise of Macquarie Harbour and up along the Gordon River.

We enjoyed a lovely dinner at Risby Cove. It’s by the water and has a slight South American influence. Delicious.

A walk around the river from our accommodation was brisk. The rain kept our walk short!